However, through the efforts of the Timbuktu Heritage Institute, the manuscripts of Timbuktu are beginning to be re-catalogued, preserved, and protected against theft.
Issa Mohammed, president of the Timbuktu Heritage Institute, said: "By stopping the illegal trafficking, not only we are preserving the heritage of Timbuktu, of the Islamic world, and of Africa, but we are preserving a message of love, peace, and living together in a multicultural world."
Today Timbuktu, designated as World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), lies at a crossroad. Forgotten for centuries to the sands of the Sahara desert, Timbuktu's rich legacy of sacred manuscripts could possess a treasure chest of African history.
Stories in This Series:
Tribe's Cultural Survival Preserves Fox Prophets, Sacred Masks
In Sahara, Salt-Hauling Camel Trains Struggle On
Reclaiming the Ancient Manuscripts of Timbuktu
Explorer Wade Davis on Initiative to Document Cultures on the Edge
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